Monday, January 11, 2010

Economic Indicators

So, what's the mood out there? Do you find yourself noticing little things that might be signs of the recession?
Here's one I've been thinking about over the last week or so: crowds at the gym.
I remember last year at this time, when it seemed like people were really panicking about the economy. So many companies in New York had been laying people off and things looked pretty dire. For me, my gym membership seems like one of the easiest expenses that could be cut if I had to economize, so I wondered if I'd notice a decline in the attendance at my gym.
As it turned out, I didn't. Last January, my gym always seemed to be packed. January is always a busy time in gyms, when people make New Year's resolutions and are still sticking to them. And the bad economy even increased that effect: when people lose their jobs, they have more time to go to the gym, and perhaps more desire to feel successful in weight loss and fitness goals, since their career goals are undergoing a setback. Also, many people probably pre-pay for a year's membership since it's cheaper than going month to month. The gym allows you to suspend your membership, but most people probably figured that the money was already spent, so they might as well just keep going.

So what about this year? When I returned to the gym on January 4th, I was dreading the crowds-- I'm always rushing to get a spot in the pool without having to wait, so having to compete with even more people beyond the usual regulars was not appealing. But the pool was no more crowded than usual, and the locker room seemed quieter than usual. And it's been that way every day since-- I keep waiting for the crowds of people to be jostling each other for lockers, waiting in line for showers, searching for empty treadmills... but it's just been pretty quiet and relatively empty.
Is it because people have found new jobs and don't have time to work out? Or is it because more and more people have let their memberships expire as they remain unemployed longer and longer? Somehow, I suspect it's the latter. New York just doesn't feel like it's bouncing back from the recession anytime soon... How about you? What sorts of economic signs do you see in your everyday life?

19 comments:

Crystal said...

My commute to work is a little quicker, our favorite restaurants are less crowded, and the grocery store is more crowded on a regular basis.

Native New Yorker said...

I was actually wondering about that too! I noticed that the streets are quieter and my commute is less crowded lately. I wonder if it is because of the super cold temperatures? I thought last week that New Yorkers were taking a longer holiday vacation. But it's already the 11th and traffic hasn't picked up.

Wendy said...

I've noticed less competition for items on eBay, and longer lines at TJ Maxx.

Grocery stores do seem more crowded--never connected that with the economy before now.

Brooklyn Money said...

I too was waiting for the gym deluge and it did not come. I can still get a 6/6:3 pm treadmill at the Grand Central location.

Craig said...

Agree, my gym wasn't more or less crowded. I judge more by the basis of people looking for jobs who tell me they are having tons of trouble.

Anne said...

I live in small city in a rural area and have noticed that the YMCA is much more crowded. When I go in about 6 pm I'm fighting through a crowd of people to get to the locker room. I think this is an effect of the bad economy because one or two smaller gyms in town have shut down (meaning more members) and more kids are participating in sports at the Y because they can't afford the sports programs at school.

Just guessing, though.

Doug said...

Since I don't go to the gym, I can't say specifically.
However, we just had a county gymnastics class for our kids cancelled due to insufficient enrollment. That almost never happens.
I have also noticed other little things like my oldest son's college is now offering more extended payment plans for tuition.

Cents in the City said...

NYSC in the UES has not seen a decline in membership. I'm a year round gym user and it has been PACKED lately. I dread going right now. I've been trying to time my gym visits at later hours and around football games, so it's not nearly so miserable.

mOOm said...

There's no recession here :) And it is very hot (100F)...

Anonymous said...

My friend who's a big box supermarket front line manager said the supermarket biz is way up from this bad economy. When I was unemployed, I was too preoccupied with looking for work to be in the gym. Now that I'm working, I'm too preoccupied with keeping my new job to join a gym! It does seem like there are a lot of new banks popping up all over the place and drug stores too!

Anonymous said...

Superbowl ad prices are falling (Pepsi isn't going to run a soda ad) and gasoline is inching toward $3/gallon (it's already over that here) are both signs that it's still bad and getting worse.

Mike Ng said...

I didn't get a raise this year! Neither did any of my coworkers!

Plus, rents in NYC have been really low and a lot of my favorite restaurants in Park Slope have closed down (Little D Eatery, anyone?).

Woe.

Roop said...

Not true here in Houston. The gym I go to has been ridiculously packed right on cue starting January 1. In fact, it's a huge LifeTime Fitness and it's completely full in the evenings, which it has never been to this degree, even last January. I am hoping people start dropping out soon.. :) Roop

Amy K. said...

I started Weight Watchers again just after Thanksgiving, and expected the meetings to go from 25% full to 100% full after the new year. Attendance is usually down around the holidays as people just throw in the towel. I did see a big line of people signing up for new memberships at the January 9th meeting, but only about twice as many as the weeks before the new year. That meeting was only about 50% full, which really surprised me. Perhaps a sign of the economy, or perhaps I just hit a less popular meeting time - I haven't settled into a favorite day and time yet.

A recruiter contacted me about two different positions last week. I thought about it for a while and then got back to him 2 days later. The positions were already filled! That's a sign to me that there are more job seekers out there now than last summer, when I usually saw a few weeks between a contact and interviewing, never mind hiring. I would say it is an employer's market more than ever now.

Jessica said...

One thing I've noticed is the crowds in the grocery store, and the coworkers who don't cook learning to cook. I think it's the fear of the economy and belt tightening.

Jerry said...

I think it varies depending on where you are in the world, but there is no question that the economy is taking a toll overall. This leads to many people eating out less, and staying in more, to the chagrin of the club and restaurant owners... I don't think that we have any insurance of a quick rebound from this recession, no matter what the talking heads on the news say about it. Sad, but true.
Jerry
www.leads4insurance.com

Katy said...

I hear ya on the gym thing. My husband is a personal trainer and there hasn't been the flux of "I need a trainer to get fit" people just flowing thru the door like past years. Everyone thinks "oh, it's January, time for resolutions, I'm sure he's doing great at work right now!" Negative... I just don't think people are quite ready yet. I keep wondering, "where is this turn around in the economy" we keep hearing about. Obviously not quite here yet!

Anonymous said...

Because we have kids, we always go to those chain salad buffet restaurants. When the economy started tanking, they started offering 2 for 1 coupons. (They never had coupons during the boom years).

When I stop getting coupons in my email, then I'll know the economy is picking up around here! (Unfortunately, we are still getting coupons)

Online Payday Loans said...

The economic recession is impacting people's personal lives in subtle ways. The attendance at a New York gym observed over a one year period is a case in point. Last year same time, the gym remained packed as more and more people came to stretch to beat away their blues; this year the attendance was thin, as many let their memberships expire due to lost jobs and paucity of income.